In The God Delusion Dawkins cites a survey or study that showed religious belief decreasing as a proportioned opposite of education increasing. Or something to that effect. I can't remember if it was about people in general or just scientists.
Anyone know what survey/study that was? Or recall which chapter that was in, so I could try to look it up?
Nelson, your links and hints provided precisely what I needed. This wasn't so-much for an argument, but helping a friend support a statement. In-case anyone is curious, here's what I posted:
In 1998, for Nature, Laron and Witham surveyed US scientists about their belief in a god. (Here is a re-print on the Stephen Jay Gould site.)
They compare versus similar surveys in 1914 and 1933; the surveys also compare all scientists against "greater" scientists.
In 1914, of 1000 scientists, 58% expressed disbelief in a god; of those 400 were considered "greater" scientists, and among them 70% expressed disbelief.
In 1933, again with the numbers of 1000 and 400, the disbelief was 67% and 85% respectively.
In 1996 the survey netted 60.7% disbelief; but in 1998 when they surveyed on "greater" scientists, they found only 7% expressed belief (72% disbelief, 20% agnostic). These greater scientists were all members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and some of the numbers are broken down even further.
Dawkins cites the Laron and Witham study on page 100 of The God Delusion, and then comments that these number are almost exact opposites of the US general population. He also notes that "It is completely as I would expect that American scientists are less religious than the American public generally, and that the most distinguished scientists are the least religious of all."
On page 101 he describes a similar survey given to members of the Royal Society (the UK's national academy of science). The survey, by R. Elisabeth Cornwell and Michael Stirrat, had just been completed (but were as-yet unpublished) as he was finishing his book (2006).
In that survey all 1074 members were asked several questions and asked to answer on a 1-to-7 scale. About 23% (247) of members responded; the scale is different from the Laron and Witham study, but the overall results were the same. Only 3.3% said they believed in a personal god. Only 12 (4.8%) were classed as believers; 213 (86.2%) classed as nonbelievers; leaving 22 (8.9%) in the agnostic category. They also noted that biologists were the most atheistic of the group.
On page 102 he notes Michael Shermer's How We Believe that showed the statistical relationship between religiosity and education level. This study found a definite correlation; the higher the education, the less likely to be religious. It also found that religiosity is negatively correlated with interest in science and with political liberalism.
It could also be that the "greater" scientists are more comfortable/established in their position and able to express their feelings truthfully without fear of reprisal, etc. You can't prove me wrong MUAHAHAHAHA! :)
That is a point, James. Considering the prejudice against non-religious people in many job markets, those without tenure may well be reluctant to express such views lest their tenure track be derailed.